When I first started hearing about an Impact Cruise I was very interested to learn more. Combining the humanitarianism and giving back spirit with a vacation was almost unimaginable. Could Fathom Impact really deliver all the hype? When they announce dates to the Dominican Republic I knew I was in for a treat. This trip would change me for better or worse but I had to give it a shot! Here are some very important things I learned, that I strongly feel all walks of life, should experience, at some point in their live time.
1. Visit a Third World Country. I knew the text book definition of what a third world country was and that was about it going into this. I am from a small country town. I learned fairly quickly that "textbook" is not reality. At first I down right felt sorry for the people of the Dominican Republic. To live in such conditions and have next to nothing. As I involved myself in the culture and atmosphere my thoughts and opinions began to change. When i was ready to leave I actually envied their love of life and strong family bonds with one another. I knew I would soon miss the simplistic life style so easily covered up by electronics and dead lines back home.
2. Embrace the culture you are in. I was rather scared at first to get my hands dirty. I could contract any number of scary things my health professional warned about as she gave me my shots before leaving for the trip. When I signed up for reforestation consisting of planting Mangrove trees to help stop flooding, I was not aware of said dangers. I got my hands dirty anyway! No way was I going to wimp out while everyone around me was helping these people who clearly needed these trees to stop their dirt floor homes from being wiped away by floods. I immersed myself in the work and the actives began to impact me personally and mentally. I have heard giving back really makes you feel good and it really does!
3. It changes you. The first two I mentioned how this trip changed me moving forward. It really did so much so this article was the hardest to date to write. I felt it would some how diminish my experiences. On one hand I want people to go through what I did because I think everyone could benefit. On the other I wanted to keep it to myself because these experiences changed me so much. Expectations of what I thought would happened flew right out the window when I was faced with using the "bathroom facilities" on the side of the mountain, in the pitch dark without any running water. You really find your inner strength and just how flexible you can be, let me tell you. I will spare you the details but just imagine doing this whilst a group of chickens are racing around to add to the mix. Suddenly going on the side of the road just seemed way more appealing!
4. Be prepared for culture shock. Remember those chickens I talked about? Yeah they raise those to cock fight. I knew it existed and have seen things on the news but something about seeing them in person and knowing their fate. I was also not prepared for the genuine kindness without expectations of something in return. Maybe that is an American thing but it seems more times than not when I travel people only want my money or to sell me something. Whilst I was creating products from recycled trash, to resell and benefit single working mothers I realized this. These women just were happy to show us something we had never seen or done before. They were excited for the extra hands to help them. They do this every day to help provide for their families if anything I was needing something from them because let's face it I am not very good at making recycled paper I found out!
5. We want everything. I cried on my trip, several times actually. Americans, myself included, want everything. The list of things I want materialistically is so long I bet I could not even remember it all to write it down. The Dominican Republic do not have the same mindset. This is such a good thing because they appreciate everything and do not take what they have for granted. I suppose when you have nothing something is always better? I taught English to children, some had never had access to a school before. Imagine never being able to express yourself through a language because you could not go to school to learn it? Never in my life have I wanted to sell everything that I own to give them an education. Things will not complete you as a person but experiences will. Education will, inspiring others will, that drive is what I think is lacking in so many of us.
I am not here to sell you on anything because I am not a good sales person. I will tell you though, no matter your age taking an Impact cruise could and will benefit you. If you are missing something in your life this just might be it. I was so changed when I got back home it took a few days to get back into the swing of things. Soon, I will bring my family on the same Impact travel and let them also experience it. I feel it is so important to get back to your roots as human beings and give back.
If you would like to hear more about my trip posts and review will be going up here (http://www.westernnewyorker.org)
MORE IN Travel
MORE IN LIFE
HUFFPOST FINDS PARTNER